Apr 8, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay (34) wipes his face after being pulled in the fifth inning against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Monday night’s 7-2 loss to the Mets, which dropped the Phillies to 2-5 on the 2013 season, was as depressing and sad as it gets.
A former ace gets shelled once again, failing to make it through the fifth inning? Check.
Weak bullpen arms once again allow two inherited runners to score, putting a game out of reach early? Check.
An offense that was completely shut down by an admittedly-studly young starter? Check.
Yeah. Let’s all jump into a pit of over-sized thumbtacks.
Of course, Roy Halladay is the biggest concern. His 1-2-3 first inning aside, the sweaty right-hander fared poorly once again on Monday, being pulled after giving up three straight hits to start the fifth inning. All told, he gave up six hits and seven runs, pushing his ERA to 14.73 in two starts. It took him 99 pitches to record 12 outs.
But more than that, it was the way Halladay LOOKED out there. In 70-degree heat, he was soaked through his uniform, his cap saturated with sweat, clearly laboring. Why does this keep happening to him? Perhaps someone could alert him to not wear long sleeve shirts when he’s pitching in warm weather. I don’t know, I’m just spit-balling here.
Halladay fell behind nearly every hitter 2-0. All night he tried nibbling on the corners with his breaking stuff, clearly terrified the Mets were going to pound his fastball and cutter in oblivion. The problem is, when you fall behind every hitter 2-0, batters start looking for the fastball and cutter, giving them a better opportunity to kill it somewhere.
For his part, Roy continues to insist he’s healthy, and that the problems he’s dealing with are all in his sweat-soaked head (quotes per Philadelphia Daily News’ Phil Lawrence).
"“I would say 95 percent is mental,” Halladay said. “It’s simplifying, it’s getting to the basics. It’s letting things happen and to trying to force things. It’s a game of failure and I’ve had my fair share. Some days you’re a horse and some days you’re a horse’s ass and I’ve been a horse’s ass for a little while. It’s something that I’ve dealt a lot with in the past and I feel like I can overcome. The more you want it, the harder it is. You almost have to really back that off and put some perspective in the whole thing.”"
Apr 8, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay (34) delivers to the plate during the fifth inning against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
And if you look at Halladay’s pure stuff, you could convince yourself he might be right.
Halladay’s fastball seemed to have a little more life on it early in the game, especially in a third inning at-bat when he blew two 92 mph fastballs right by David Wright. Wright ultimately grounded out weakly to third.
It was the one at-bat the entire evening when Roy actually challenged a hitter. Why didn’t he do that more often?
Last time out, Halladay foolishly blamed Erik Kratz for a “half-hearted” pitch he threw to Justin Upton that resulted in a back-breaking home run. Last night, there could be no such external excuse for a lousy performance.
Of course, it’s only two starts and Halladay says he’s healthy. And one would think that, based on the incredible movement he’s still getting on his breaking pitches, that an effective pitcher still lives inside the man-beast that used to be Roy Halladay.
But how long can the Phillies afford to wait? How long can they afford to have Halladay fail to make it through the fifth inning? How long can they continue to go to the bullpen this early every time out? How long can the Phils find themselves down by four or five runs early in the ballgame?
The Nationals and Braves are as good as everyone thought they would be. Atlanta is absolutely tearing the cover off the ball, and the Nats have gotten off to a pretty good start, too. Even with an extra wild card in the National League, there is far less room for error than there was in 2007 and 2008, when the Phils got off to slow starts.
For people who said that all Halladay needed to be was an effective #3 starter, they were correct. But right now, Halladay isn’t even an effective #5 starter. He’s not even Joe Blanton. He’s “bad Kyle Kendrick” at the moment.
The Phils cannot win with this Roy Halladay taking the mound every fifth day.
So, how long do they stay with him? How long can this go on?
The smart money here says the Phillies will stick with Halladay for another two or three starts at least. Other than bringing Adam Morgan to the big league roster, what other choice do they have?
The Phillies can’t afford to wait forever for Halladay to get his head right.
But for now, they have no choice but to ride their struggling right-hander for a bit longer.